North Dakota is a small state – according to Google, we have around 700,000 people right now. (We probably have more than that, as oilfield population is hard to keep track of, and the Bakken has definitely increased our headcount.)
We’re a fairly rural state, as such things go, with a slowly urbanizing population and small towns fading a bit more each year. We have a reputation for being a bit backward and a fondness for hunting that is usually associated with the deep South. (Personally, a deer is a regular part of our meat diet for the year, and not drawing a tag hurts us pretty badly.)
The more urbanized parts of our state aren’t exactly considered high culture. Areas like Minot, Williston, and Dickinson are all associated with oilfield work; Bismarck is the state capital, Grand Forks and Fargo are college towns, and a good number of western North Dakotans would just as soon give Fargo to Minnesota.
What I’m driving at is that North Dakota isn’t anyone’s idea of a home for great artists.
That isn’t to say we haven’t had some great people come out of North Dakota. We’ve had at least a few representatives in almost everything, like basketball great Phil Jackson and boxing legend Virgil Hill, or the more notorious like Paula Broadwell.
But as far as authors go, there’s only a few that really pop to mind, and Louis L’Amour is far and away the most famous of those. (If you don’t know who he is, you need to go buy a dozen of his books and read, and then be ashamed of yourself for missing out on a freaking legend.)
So, I’ve rambled enough to make my point.
Now I’m going to take it up a notch.
My hometown in North Dakota (to which I returned three and a half years ago with my wife) has a population of about 1200 people.
And I’m not the only author.
There is, of course, my brother Cory who spent seven years writing a humor column for the area paper called Neu’s Ramblings and published a book of short stories entitled My Horse Got A Flat. You could say that’s not even unexpected – we both have our own flair for storytelling. But this post isn’t about him.
No, after 370 words, I’m finally getting to the subject of this post – fellow hometown author Josie Blaine.
Josie’s first book, published in September just a few weeks after Dead Man’s Fugue, is called Something about Sophia. I may be looking toward the future or other worlds when I write, but Josie is looking into the past. Something about Sophia is the story of a German immigrant to the plains of North Dakota – a story that echoes many of the families here in one way or another on the central plains.
And, like me, Josie’s not content with just one book. She has been working on several more books to come in the next year (including a Kindle version of Something about Sophia, which should be out early next year), so there’s more to look forward to.
If you’re looking to support another North Dakota author, and one who pens stories far more realistic than my own, pick up a copy of Something about Sophia. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
I’m not sure if it’s something in the water here, but this town sure has produced a surprising number with a literary bent!